Silent Circle, a secure communications company founded by PGP creator Phil Zimmerman, has pre-emptively shut down its secure, encrypted email service and destroyed the servers so that it cannot be forced to reveal its customers' secrets to NSA spooks.
In a letter entitled To Our Customers that echoed (and was inspired by) yesterday's letter from Lavabit founder, Silent Circle co-founder and CTO Jon Callas explained "Silent Mail was a good idea at the time, and that time is past" because, unlike its other products, it is theoretically possible for Silent Circle to snoop on email, and thus they may be forced to do so.
We’ve been thinking about this for some time, whether it was a good idea at all. Today, another secure email provider, Lavabit, shut down their system lest they “be complicit in crimes against the American people.” We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now. We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now.
We’ve been debating this for weeks, and had changes planned starting next Monday. We’d considered phasing the service out, continuing service for existing customers, and a variety of other things up until today. It is always better to be safe than sorry, and with your safety we decided that the worst decision is always no decision.
Silent Phone and Silent Text, along with their cousin Silent Eyes are end-to-end secure. We don’t have the encrypted data and we don’t collect metadata about your conversations. They’re continuing as they have been. We are still working on innovative ways to do truly secure communications. Silent Mail was a good idea at the time, and that time is past.